|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-10-21
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 PRESIDENT LEBANESE PREMIER MEETINGLebanese Prime Minister Saad said on Thursday his country would soon define its offshore boundaries with Cyprus and Syria and would move ahead with licensing exploration for oil and gas.
The Prime Minister, who paid a one-day official visit to Cyprus, was speaking after talks with President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias at the Presidential Palace, where the two countries also decided to further expand bilateral relations.
``We are finalising the economic zones with Syria, and hopefully soon we will be sending to parliament the whole area for ratification,`` Hariri told reporters.
On his part, President Christofias, noted that the situation in the Middle East is complicated and that the answer must be given by Israel and the Palestinians. He also said that the countries which are powerful and the creators of the problem, have to take peaceful initiatives to achieve peace and agreement and avoid new fait accompli on the ground.
Asked why the bill providing for an agreement between Cyprus and Lebanon to delineate their exclusive economic zone is still pending before the Lebanese Parliament, Hariri replied thats not about this issue.
He said that at one point there were some differences on this agreement with Cyprus, we had some differences with Syria, now we have a much better relationship with Syria and we are negotiating the economic zone, adding our goal is to move ahead on this issue.
Cyprus has an agreement with Egypt defining its sea boundaries, has signed an agreement pending ratification with Lebanon and is holding talks with Israel. Cyprus carried out one licensing round for deepwater exploration in the eastern Mediterranean in 2007, despite objections from Turkey, its northern neighbour which occupies one third of the islands territory.
Answering questions, President Christofias said the Cypriot government has been watching very carefully the situation in Lebanon and it is not by chance that I expressed the wish this national unity government will achieve really hope for the people, hope for the country, hope for prosperity.
Regarding the Middle East Peace process, Hariri said unfortunately Israel has been taking a position of a country that does not really believe in peace, adding that Israeli positions have been making the process unbearable and pushing towards extremist moves, noting that this cannot be acceptable by the international community, the Arab League or anybody. If Israel is truthful about peace, then it should really move ahead with total comprehensive peace, he added.
Asked how Cyprus can help reactivate the peace process between Arabs and Israel, President Christofias said the situation on the ground is more complicated than an answer. The answer must be given by Israel and the Palestinians, as the answer must be given by Turkey and Cyprus as well. I mean the countries which are powerful and let me say, the creators of the problem, have to take peaceful initiatives and to show the best of good will in order to achieve peace and agreement on these problems.
He also said these countries and their governments must avoid new fait accompli on the ground because this creates more and difficult obstacles towards the efforts for final solution. Anything new, he added, will make the whole thing and effort more complicated and difficult. So I answer to you that we support the efforts for a solution which will be a win-win situation and will vindicate the Palestinian people because the people of Palestine have the right which nobody can deny to their own sovereign state, with complete boundaries.
Regarding bilateral relations, he said the two countries decided to exchange visits by ministers and other officials to make more practical their exchanges on the economic, tourism, energy and all other fields that interest both countries.
Asked how trade links, Hariri said he promised the President they would be sending the minister of Energy and Environment to Cyprus to exchange views and guidance.
We have very friendly relations but we need to expand our bilateral relationship and have achievements on the ground, Hariri added. At this point, President Christofias said we completely agree, this is the situation and it is common decision to promote our relations in all fields.
In his statement, President Christofias said the visit is very important not only because it is a continuation of the exchange of visits between our two countries at the highest level.
Christofias revealed that he plans to visit Lebanon soon.
The Republic of Cyprus is bound by long-lasting bonds and excellent relations with Lebanon. This is due to our geographical proximity, the similar mentality of our people and the fact that both our countries have been facing challenges since their establishment.
On bilateral relations, the President said we reviewed the progress to date of our cooperation and ways to further strengthen and deepen it, through the prospects of additional agreements in various fields.
He briefed Hariri on Cyprus positions on the Cyprus issue, current developments and the three-part proposal which he has submitted at the negotiating table to give impetus to the present phase of the negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot community.
He thanked Hariri for reconfirming the principled position of Lebanon on the Cyprus problem for a solution on the basis of international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
On the Middle East problem, Christofias said we are in support of a comprehensive solution. That is, the existence of two states on the basis of United Nations resolutions and earlier agreements and understandings, as well as reaching conditions of peace with neighbours such as Lebanon and Syria.
In his remarks, Hariri said that the two had an excellent meeting where they raised a number of key issues that are of interest to both Lebanon and Cyprus.
I stressed to the President the crucial role that Cyprus can play as an EU member state that borders the Middle East and that truly understands the region and its sensitivities - a country that truly understands the cost of instability and turmoil, he remarked.
For the past 62 years, he said, Cyprus has witnessed the Arab Israeli conflict and has been indirectly affected by it. It has also acted as a genuine friend to Lebanon, adding your people have been genuine friends to the Lebanese and to the Arabs at large; always ready to help and receive us without hesitation during the many episodes of unrest which we went through in history.
The Lebanese Premier said we need to work together, so that history does not repeat itself , underlining that today the region stands at a critical juncture, either it heads towards peace or it will face a regional war.
In these difficult times, Hariri said, the region needs real statesmenwho have the capability of learning from the past and providing a better future for all the people of the Middle East. In achieving all this, we find a true partner in Cyprus, a country that can help spur the European Union to assume a more leading role in the Middle East Peace Process.
He stressed the EU has a moral responsibility to dissuade Israel from escalating its racist and discriminating policies with the new citizenship laws. It also has a vested interest in a just and lasting solution based on the terms of the Madrid conference and the Arab peace initiative of 2002.
The two also discussed the close bilateral relations, including economic ties, he said, adding we look forward to maintaining these ties and further developing them particularly in the area of oil and gas offshore exploration.
In addition he said they are eager to actively participate in the Union for the Mediterranean, and we look forward to Cypruss support for Lebanons initiatives in this regard.
 SPOKESMAN PRESIDENT BAROSSO LETTERPresident Demetris Christofias sent on Wednesday a letter to the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, calling on the Commission to change its position and withdraw a regulation on direct trade between the EU and Cyprus` northern Turkish occupied areas, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has announced.
In statements to the press here Thursday, Stephanou said that in view of the opinion of the European Parliament Legal Service, which reached similar conclusions to those of the Council Legal Service, and the decision of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, President Christofias has called on the European Commission to revise its position on the regulation and to withdraw the proposed regulation.
The call came in the wake of a decision by the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee which questioned the legal basis on which the Commission had proposed direct trade between the EU and Cyprus occupied areas. The decision vindicated the position of the Cyprus government that the northern occupied areas of the country - EU territory since the Republic of Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004 - cannot be regarded as a third country with which EU members can trade. Turkey, which aspires to join the EU, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to meet its EU commitments relating to Cyprus.
In the letter to Barroso, Christofias notes that the proposed regulation puts at risk the prospects of reaching a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus soon. He also points out that the withdrawal of the proposal will allow the islands two communities to continue their efforts, through the direct negotiations, to reach a solution.
 UN CYPRUS LANDMINESUN deminers in Cyprus achieved on Thursday a significant milestone, surpassing 25,000 landmines cleared and destroyed on the island, a UN announcement says. According to the UN, reaching this landmark constitutes a major step towards a mine-free buffer zone and ultimately a mine-free Cyprus.
The announcement goes on to say that since late 2004, teams of deminers associated with the UN Mine Action Centre in Cyprus (UNMACC) have been working on the island to rid the 180-km-long buffer zone of landmines originally laid during the outbreak of violence in 1974. The project is co-funded by the European Union and the government of Cyprus through the UN Development Programme and executed by the UN Office for Project Service (UNOPS) with support from the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
Thus far 14.3 million euros has been spent on this project, says the UN. Reaching this milestone is another important step forward in our activities serving the two communities and will hopefully serve as a prelude to a successful and satisfactory follow-on phase as we move towards our stated goal of a mine-free buffer zone and, eventually, we hope, a mine-free Cyprus, stated Lisa Buttenheim, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus and Chief of Mission of UNFICYP.
 GERMAN AMBASSADOR TURKEY CYPRIOT VESSELProblems emanating from restrictions Turkey imposes on Cypriot flagged ships are one reason that calls for a political settlement in Cyprus, the German Ambassador Gottfried Zeitz stated Thursday.
The issue was discussed at a breakfast organized by the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) and the Cypriot German Business Association in the presence of the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides. Speaking after the breakfast, the Ambassador confirmed that the issue was brought up during the breakfast by representatives of the shipping industry, indicating though that it is clear that it is a political matter and that he couldnt make any comment apart from saying that just another example of the benefits that a final solution would bring about.
And this is one reason more to strive with all determination and all resources towards the final settlement he said, indicating that no solution is no solution and the current status quo cannot be the final state.
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